My new career at Amazon

The last two weeks have been a professional roller coaster for me, which is why I’ve waited for a resolution before writing about it. Here’s what happened in a nutshell: two weeks ago I was pulled into my director’s office and informed that there have been major budget cuts in our organization at Amazon and that my contract is being terminated at the end of the week, which is a month early. As it turned out, over 100 contractors were let go, and other expenses like travel and team lunches were also cut in order to save money. I’m not sure what brought on all these budget cuts considering the size and stature of Amazon but that’s just how it is.

My original goal with taking a contract position was to make some connections at Amazon so that I could eventually transition into a full–time position, and although I was worried and frustrated about what had gone on, I realized that the original goal was still intact. Luckily my manager felt like I was an asset to the company, plus he felt bad about having to let me go, so he recommended me for a full–time position on another team. When I first saw the requirements for this position I was a little overwhelmed and felt like the job was beyond my qualifications. I actually even told myself that I wasn’t going to apply because I didn’t think I had a chance of getting hired, but the following day I received an email from one of Amazon’s internal recruiters asking if I’d like to setup a phone interview with the hiring manager. I figured I couldn’t say no since it would make my old manager look bad, so I decided to go for it.

My strategy for the phone interview was to be up front and honest about my current skill set and not pretend to be further along than I really am. Luckily the guy interviewing me really appreciated my honesty. He said that all to often, candidates are overstating their skills and that he appreciated my humility when describing my own. The phone interview went great so he invited me to come in for an in–person interview loop. I knew that this was a big deal and that I needed to prepare for it, so I started looking for interviews with other companies. I ended up having several phone and in–person interviews with various companies, and to be honest, most of them didn’t go that great. I got turned down for two of them, but felt confident on the third. Regardless, I felt more prepared for my Amazon interview, and that’s all that really mattered.

The Amazon interview was really long; like over 5 hours. I met with 6 different people and was asked a huge variety of questions. I was writing code on the white board and describing past experiences where I need to invent solutions, or adapt to change. They threw everything but the kitchen sink at me but I left feeling good. Of course there were parts that I wish I could have done over but overall I felt like I did the best I could and the rest was up to fate.

After leaving the interview with Amazon I returned a call from an outside recruiter I’d been working with and found out that I had been given an offer for a contract position at a chemical company. This company really wanted me so they raised the rate considerably in order to persuade me to join them. Although I was flattered by their offer, it wasn’t really what I was looking for due to the fact that it’s another contract, and I had just gotten burned by a contract. There is no stability in contracting and with another baby on the way I didn’t think it would be the best move. The chemical company knew that I was interviewing elsewhere so they gave me a 48 hour window to accept the offer, otherwise they were going with their second choice.

The next morning I called my recruiter at Amazon and told her that I had been extended an offer by another company but that Amazon was my first choice. I told her about the deadline they had given me and asked if there was any way she could give me some type of indication as to whether or not I would be receiving an offer from Amazon. She told me that she would be able to give me a yes or no answer by the end of the day, but that they wouldn’t know the specifics of the offer until receiving approval from the finance department later in the week. I said that would be totally fine, and proceeded to cross my fingers.

A couple hours later, while Jessica, Ava and I were at the grocery store, I got a call back saying that the answer is yes and that they are working on an offer! Obviously we were very excited about this news but still had to wait a few days until we knew what the specifics would be, which brings us to today. I received a call from Amazon today to go over the specifics of my offer, and while I won’t go into them publicly, I will say that they easily surpassed what I was hoping for. I had Amazon on speaker phone so Jessica could hear everything and she had to cover her mouth to contain herself when she heard what they were offering. Although I had planned on not accepting the offer on the spot, I couldn’t help it. Had it been a lower offer I may have asked for the weekend to consider it but I was in a bit of shock and my joy got the best of me.

The only remaining step now is to conduct a background check, which is totally fine, and then I’ll be starting work on Wednesday morning. I’m still shocked to have received this offer but it just goes to show what hard work and perseverance gets you. A little over a year and a half ago I re–dedicated myself to web development and have been studying 7 days a week ever since. There have been several milestones achieved along the way, but today is the culmination of all that hard work. Needless to say, I’m going to continue studying daily and working to advance my skill set, but for the first time since I was a buss boy at El Gaucho many years ago, I can stop thinking about what my next professional step is. From now on all I have to focus on is doing well at Amazon and the rest will be taken care of. I’m so happy to have this handled before our new addition arrives, and so thankful for the incredible support system that has gotten me through this entire process. It’s a great day for the Pellegrini house and I can’t wait to take Jessica out to a nice celebration dinner!

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